The Florida Tech Panthers overcame a slow start Wednesday, putting together a strong second half and beating Saint Leo 88-83 in a Sunshine State Conference men’s basketball road game.
Sam Daniel went 11-of-17 from the floor and 4-of-6 from three-point range, scoring a game-high 32 points to go with seven rebounds. Teammate Jordan Majors hit three three-pointers and was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, good for 26 points. He and RJ Coil pulled down nine rebounds each to lead the team.
Things didn’t start well for the Panthers, as Saint Leo reeled off the first seven points of the game before Daniel hit a free-throw 2:54 into the game to get the visitors on the board. The Lions would extend that lead to 12-1 before Florida Tech cut into it a bit.
It was 24-13 with 10:57 left in the first half, before Majors and Daniel hit-back-to-back three’s, cutting the lead to five. Daniel Duarte answered for Saint Leo, before Patrick Anderson dialed long distance, making it a 27-22 game. After DeAndre King hit a three for the home team, making it 30-22, the Panthers went on a 13-2 run. The only three in there was hit by Majors, while Daniel finished the run with a layup, making it 35-32 Panthers with 3:11 left.
Michael Milligan drained a three-ball gave the Panthers a 42-37 lead before Saint Leo made it 42-41 as the half expired.
As slow as the Panthers started in the first half, Saint Leo returned the favor in the second half as they watched Florida Tech go on a 12-0 run. It started with a three-point play for Majors and Coil scored four points before Daniel put the exclamation point on it with a three.
Down 54-41, Saint Leo (8-11, 4-4 SSC) made a bit of a run, closing the gap to 54-48 before Daniel hit a three with 14:33 to go in the game. The Lions cut it again to 59-57 before Daniel hit two free-throws. Jesse Huff eventually tied it at 63 with a long ball, but the Panthers would get a 70-65 advantage after Daniel hit a monster dunk with 8:31 to go.
The Panthers (8-8, 3-5 SSC) would go up by as many as nine twice as time was ticking away, but the Lions were not going away. Duarte hit a three with 2:10 left to make it 81-77 before Majors hit two free-throws and a layup to extend to 85-79. Junior Searcy’s two free-throws cut it to four, but the Lions were forced to foul Daniel, who made both to make it an 87-81 game. Kyran McClure made it 87-83, before Daniel hit one more free-throw with eight seconds left, to salt the game away.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Saint Leo Box Score
The Panthers return home on Saturday to battle Tampa in another Sunshine State Conference game. The tip is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. but will be preceded by the women’s game, so it will likely be closer to 4:20 p.m.